Report: Salaries just 'part of the solution' for Utah's teacher shortage

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  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    Oct. 25, 2016 10:43 a.m.

    "Other issues include lack of professional development, lack of career advancement and lack of respect for the profession from the public."

    I've been teaching high school for over 10 years and I've never met a teacher who felt we don't get enough professional development. In fact, it's shoved down our throats and it has to be done when we are not standing in front of our students (days when the public thinks we aren't working).

    Lack of respect is definitely a significant issue. Teachers are told by their superiors how they are valued but then their decisions are overridden.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Oct. 23, 2016 8:11 a.m.

    We make all kinds of excuses for lack of money. We hear that if we grow the economy it will mean more money for education and yet that never happens. We give tax incentives to new companies who come in taking money out of school coffers. Governor Huntsman gave Utahn's most specifically the wealthy a huge tax cut during his time in office, which move Utahns tax contributions for education from one of the highest in the nation to one of the lowest in the nation. We cannot have more kids in the system than other states, contribute less in taxes than all but 15 states, and have enough money to properly fund education. Yes there are other things than teacher salaries that cause teachers to leave, but a significant increase in salary would go a long way to solving problems. It would make some of those other issues more bearable. The teacher shortage isn't going away, and the more time we waste trying to figure out how to solve it without investing money into teachers is only going to make it exponentially worse. It is time to hold the legislature accountable in the upcoming session.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 3:26 p.m.

    We cannot compare Utah to Wyoming or any other state because they are simply not like us. No other state adds one or two new high schools throughout the state every year just to keep up. And for every high school there is probably several elementary's and junior highs.
    The reason that new businesses move to Utah is because of the potential employees that other states do not have. We have kids. Because we have so many kids that makes funding more for teachers very hard. There is not a simple answer to this catch 22.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 2:23 p.m.

    I've been teaching middle school for a few years now, but this will probably be my last year. Teachers are expected to do too much and students are expected to do too little. Why stay in a profession where I am just being underpaid for being treated the way I am being treated? I may come back after a few years to try to teach high school (where the kids are usually at least slightly better), but by that time I'd probably be taking a pay cut to do so anyway.

  • citygrrl SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 2:18 p.m.

    I sympathize with the people who posted, but I find the article simply regurgitates the same, tired complaints that educators make. Large class sizes would be difficult. Lack of parental support is very destructive. Teaching is more art than science and not everyone is cut out for it. Instead of making teachers accountable for the home lives of their students over which they have no control, I think we should withhold the child tax deduction from parents whose kids are unruly.

    But here are some points I don't think teachers understand. Many people with college degrees in most fields put many unpaid hours, hoping it advances their careers but with no guarantee that it will. To Spellman 789, you may get a paycheck all year but you're not working all year. Most of us non-teachers only get a 2- week vacation. The article doesn't indicate what additional respect would look like, and thus the assertion that "it's more than money" is just too elusive for implementation.

    Bottom line: you can't have the protection of a union and enjoy the pay commensurate of non-educational professionals without enduring a far more competitive environment.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 1:02 p.m.

    I quit teaching after 25 years because the demands are so high. If I had under 30 kids in my 4th grade class, I was lucky. I quit when they made the change to the pension plan, as I would be making less than I made in the past. I desperately miss my students. I wish I could still be in the classroom. It was all too much, so I retired early. I have a math endorsement, which allows me to teach junior high math. I was going to teach it, but I walked into one of our local junior highs and heard such terrible language, I gave up the idea. I had a lot of really good parents in my area, so I was blessed in that area of my job. Wish I could go back, but it has gotten even more demanding. Bummer.

  • Oh, please! Saint George, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 12:17 p.m.

    "...insufficient pay, rapidly changing and growing demands, and lack of support and mentorship." All legitimate reasons for teacher dissatisfaction.

    My daughter has 34 3rd-graders, five of whom are incredibly challenging. The only classroom aide helps all teachers in the grade with papers (copying and the like) but provides no classroom assistance. Several of the five disruptive students were referred to the principal's office, parents called, children "talked to." Thankfully these parents are supportive of the teacher and their children are slightly better. Parents of the other three refuse to believe their child could cause a problem. The parents' disrespect of the teacher transfers to the students.

    If the parents were held accountable for their children's disruptive behavior, perhaps the teachers could spend time teaching and not babysitting.

    Teachers are often required to teach life skills like honesty, respect, initiative, cleanliness, etc. that should be taught at home.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 10:43 a.m.

    Twenty-three students? That would be a dream class! At my school, we have 29-32 students per class in elementary school. I currently work at least 2 1/2 - 3 hours per day without pay. My class has a lot of behavior problems, and some parents are very critical. Others are very supportive. Parents, your support would go a long way.

  • Blue Typhoon CHEYENNE, WY
    Oct. 21, 2016 10:34 a.m.

    I grew up in Utah, went to college in Utah, and thought about teaching in Utah until I learned that I would qualify for government assistance as a first year teacher. pretty pathetic if you ask me. Why stay in a state that has some of the largest classroom sizes and the lowest pay? I got a job in Wyoming teaching at a high school of about 1000 students and my pay is 40% higher and my classroom sizes are around 20.

    Teaching is a very rewarding job but how much would I be able to concentrate on the needs of my students and creating lessons that are engaging and meaningful if I have to get off work and go to my second job just to keep my family afloat. I don't know how the teachers in Utah do it.

    It's sad really. Utah will end up getting what it pays for. I feel the reason why the test scores in Utah are still high is not because of the amazing learning environment provided by the state but because on average the parents tend to take a more active roll in their children's education and push the importance of education.

  • Spellman789 Syracuse, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 10:08 a.m.

    The problem with some people out there saying that teachers who make 37K for 9 months of teaching equates to them making $48K for 12 months really is flawed. Most teachers spread that $37K, or whatever their salary, over the 12 months so they are still getting a paycheck in the summer. Most do end up getting a summer job, or even second job, but hey, how can you not in this profession. Having a mother and mother-in-law who taught junior high and high school and seeing all the work they put in, it is quite possible they put in about as many unpaid work hours as paid work hours.

  • kpyto Provo, UT
    Oct. 21, 2016 9:26 a.m.

    This is the best article about the teacher shortage I've seen. Our teacher shortage is about low pay, but it is more about respecting the profession. Teaching is a tough job, it is very demanding. To have 36 hormone raging teenagers in your room with all their differences and your job is to engage each in learning. That's tough, and most are doing a great job of it! On top of that you become attached to the little buggers, and many of their tough lives break your heart. It isn't something just anyone can walk off the street and do.
    I taught for four years in a junior high, before that I've worked as a farm hand picking fruit and later worked construction while going to college. I was more physically drained from teaching then I ever was in my other jobs. I luckily found greener pastures where I am respected and well paid and can afford to raise my family. I respect the heck out of my former colleagues and am really grateful for the wonderful teachers who are teaching my children. Everyone should take a minute and thank a teacher, it would mean the world to them.